UC Berkeley Library

Documentaries on the 1930's

Adolph Zukor Presents Broadway Highlights: Intimate News of the Gay White Way.

Presents a series of newsreel segments from the 1930s of celebrities of the day visiting New York's hot Broadway shows. Many prominent Big Apple personalities are shown, making this feature an important historical document as well as very entertaining viewing. Originally produced in 1936. 60 min.

America, Lost and Found: The Depression Decade

Uses newsreels, old photographs, feature film clips, advertisements, and home movies to create a portrait of America in the 1930's. Conveys the psychological impact of the economic and social collapse that accompanied the Great Depression in the United States, how America reacted to the loss of its dreams and how these dreams were rebuilt. 1979. 59 min.

America: The Promise Fulfilled and the Promise Broken.

Deals with the promise of unlimited prosperity after World War I, the boom of the 1920's, the Depression and the New Deal. With Alistair Cooke. 52 min.

American Musical Theater: 1800's to 1960's: Pt3. The twenties and the thirties

Contents: Irene (1920). Sally. Shuffle along. Lady be good (1924). Bombo.Music Box revues (1921). Rose-Marie (1924). Student Prince. Showboat(1927). Of thee I sing (1931). Porgy and Bess (1935). Pins and needles(1937). Cradle will rock. Anything goes. Jumbo (1935). Babes in arms.

American Visions: Streamlines and Breadlines.

Examines the mythic images of the 1920's and 30's as skyscrapers rise in New York and the rural heartland is idealized by Regionalists like Thomas Hart. Artists of the WPA celebrate the worker as hero, while Jacob Lawrence tells stories of black America, and ambitious New Deal projects like Hoover Dam project self-confidence in hard times. Also examines the work of Raymond Hood, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, and Grant Wood. Written and narrated by Robert Hughes.

Arguing the World.

Traces the lives of four of the 20th century's leading thinkers, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Irving Howe and Irving Kristol. They have been disagreeing with a vengeance since they studied together at New York City College in the 1930s. This film traces their early idealistic days, their controversial role in the McCarthy era, their battle with the New Left in the sixties, and their vastly differing political views today. A film by Joseph Dorman. 1997. 84 min.

Artists at Work: A Film on the New Deal Art Projects

An in-depth survey of the federal programs for support of visual artists during the depression. Several artists recount experiences with WPA's art project and other programs. Shows works of art created during the New Deal era and discusses the destruction and loss of many works of art produced then. Producer and director, Mary Lance. 1981. 35 min.

Baseball: Fifth Inning, 1930-1940, Shadow Ball.

Baseball struggles to survive during the years of the Great Depression. America's game has another struggle too--the stain of racial segregation. A Film by Ken Burns. 126 min.

Breadline, 1929 (People's Century)

The 1920s found Americans enjoying the fruits of a new prosperity in a post-war boom. Then, in 1929, the New York Stock Exchange crashed; banks failed and industry withered. From Europe and the United States to Latin America and Asia, the Great Depression shattered economies and communities worldwide. In this film the people who were there remember the blow as workers from the United States, Chile, Britain, Belgium and Scandinavia recall the hungry 1930s. Originally shown on PBS stations in 1997. 56 min.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

This documentary juxtaposes newsreel footage, film clips and period music in an eye-opening look at the Great Depression. Many of the movies created in the 1930s featured strong social commentary, while others offered pure escapism and fed a fascination with a dazzling world out of reach to the everyday American. Through a contrast between the fantasy of film and the reality of everyday life, a fascinating perspective on the Great Depression and Hollywood's golden age is presented. Also includes political speeches by Franklin D. Roosevelt and others.1975. 112 min.

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